20 ways to have the BEST family staycation in Toronto during the holiday season
We played tourists in our very own backyard a few weeks ago and it was exactly what our family needed. Whether you are heading to Toronto to visit friends or family or are looking to staycation in style, here are our Top 20 list of places to stay, eat, and have fun when visiting Toronto with kids.
1)STAY- The Chelsea Hotel is one of the most family-friendly hotels our families have ever stayed in. The rooms are spacious and clean and the location is literally right in the heartbeat of the city. They also have a very unique way of making kids feel special including a special VIP check-in area for kids where they go up a mini set of stairs to check-in and pick a treat. The hotel also has a pool with a water slide and separate children’s zone with games, crafts, and more for kids. It’s not one of those mini fun rooms, it’s a huge space nicely decorated with brand new toys, an indoor mini play area, and staff that are attentive and caring. Upon check-in, we also received cookies, milk, crackers and cheese for the kids, which was a really nice touch.
2)EAT- Pizzeria Libretto is a must-try when in Toronto-one of the best pizza’s you will ever EAT + plus restaurant is family-friendly.
3)EAT- EATALY just opened in Toronto and is a must-visit. Great way to feel like you’re visiting Italy without ever leaving Toronto. You can have a sit-down meal at one of their restaurants or pick up a slice of pizza or a panino. They have the BEST gelato you will ever taste in Toronto. Try the Fiore Di Latte flavour, thank us later.
4) EAT- Hot House Toronto is a MUST visit when travelling in Toronto and great for families. Their sandwiches are INCREDIBLE!
5)EAT- Medieval Times one of our fave places to take the kids, they eat and are entertained. It’s a WIN-WIN! Plus you’re encouraged to eat with your fingers – what kid doesn’t love that?
6) EAT- Old Spaghetti Factory a fun place for the kids with whimsical décor and SPAGHETTI. Plus it’s a trip down memory lane for any of the grown-ups who grew up visiting there.
7)FUN- Hockey Hall of Fame. Our kids loved this interactive experience. They spent most of the time in the interactive zone testing out their slapshots and loved the final piece of seeing the Stanley Cup in real life.
8)EAT- If you get hungry during your visit, Marche is in the same building as The Hockey Hall of Fame and is great for families. Our kids love going up to pick and order their own food plus they have a mini playground for kids inside the restaurant.
9) FUN- Ripley’s Aquarium a must-visit for families of all ages. They have an interactive playground and sitting area for kids towards the end of the visit. Great for the kids to unwind and just be kids!
10)FUN- Visit the CN Tower – You can climb the stairs and tire out the kids or take the elevator to the top for some great views of the city.
11)FUN- Catch a Raptors or Maple Leafs Game – Who doesn’t love cheering on their teams? If you’re on a tight budget you could also take in a Marlies game and see the future stars of the Maple Leafs but at a greatly discounted price.
12)FUN- Watch a play. We watched Ross Petty’s Lil’ Red Robin Hood and the kids loved it. We didn’t take the 2-year-old to do this. However, Ella who is 9 and GM who is 7, both really enjoyed it.
13)FUN- Visit the Bay Holiday Windows, which is a 100-year old tradition in the city. Every year is a new theme – so it’s an annual event for many families.
14)FUN- Toronto Christmas Market is a must. Upon entering you feel like you have been transported into a Christmas Market in Europe. From the large tree in the center to the mini huts with lights, it really is a magical experience. We do recommend day time for families as evenings on weekends get rather busy.
15)FUN– Ontario Science Centre. A short 15-minute ride from the core of downtown Toronto is the Ontario Science Centre. Great for families with kids of all ages. We were worried about Mr. A who is 2 years old – would there be anything for him to do there? When you think of the Science Centre you think stuff to do for older kids right? WRONG. They had a whole toddler area which included a grocery store kids and play zone. The older kids didn’t want to leave this section it was so cool!
16)FUN- Looking Glass Adventures Family Escape Room– This was one of our fave parts of our staycation. This is one of the only family-themed escaped rooms in the city. The kids and adults all loved it. Very interactive and strikes the right balance between not too hard and not too easy.
17)FUN- Winterfest at Canada’s Wonderland– Located about 35 minutes northwest of the city, Canada’s Wonderland’s Winterfest is a great place to visit in summer but now also in winter! It is the first time the park has been transformed into a Winter Wonderland complete with a skating rink, rides for kids, hot chocolate stations, and holiday-themed funnel cakes.
18) FUN-Toronto Eaton Centre– Is decked out for the holidays and is a great place to not only shop but take some great holiday pics with their HUGE Christmas tree.
19)FUN- Skating at Nathan Phillips Square is a must! It’s free to skate, (bring your own skates and helmet) but if you can, try to go on a weekday or earlier in the morning as afternoons can be quite busy.
20) FUN- Visit Toronto’s ONLY Spa for kids. Glama Gal Kids Spa locations in Toronto- East York, Vaughan, Barrie, Ajax, Oakville and Newmarket. Book the Candy Cane You-Nicorn Spa Experience which includes DIY candy can scented unicorn poop, super-secret cotton candy drink, candy cane glitter face and more.
BIG TIP: To really feel like a tourist take a taxi or public transportation wherever you go!